Pre- and Probiotics Could Help HIV Patients, Suggests New Research

Researchers believe that supplementation with prebiotics and probiotics can help lower the risk of infection and inflammation for HIV patients taking antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). Jason Brenchley, of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and others were aware that people treated with ARVs have a higher mortality rate than uninfected individuals, and that HIV infection causes gastrointestinal (GI) tract damage, microbial translocation, and immune activation. Based on the results of the research, the team suggested that pre- and probiotics could provide adjunctive therapy for HIV infection that is well tolerated and inexpensive.

Brenchley and colleagues treated macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a model of the human infection, with either ARVs alone or ARVs in combination with a symbiotic mixture of probiotics and prebiotics. Seven SIV-infected macaques received the symbiotic mixture of prebiotic inulin and a probiotic for 60 days. These macaques were found to have GI immune function and decreased inflammation compared to the control group. The subjects who received probiotics showed increased frequency and functionality of the GI tract. According to Brenchley and colleagues, symbiotic treatment resulted in increased frequency and functionality of GI tract APCs, enhanced reconstitution of and functionality of CD+ T cells, and reduced fibrosis of lymphoid follicles in the colon.

The study, "Probiotic/Prebiotic Supplementation of Antiretrovirals Improves Gastrointestinal Immunity in SIV-Infected Macaques," was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (doi: 10.1172/JCI66227).